Age. I swear it happens when you’re not looking. I mean, I just turned my back for one second and it moved in with all its crap in tow. Through the side door he came with a backpack full of one excuse after another. Like a cheating lover after a night of clubbing, he drags himself in looking for Ibuprofen and a soft place to land. I’ll just make a few changes, he says. You won’t even notice I’m here; he says. I call bullshit.
One at a time
I’ve seen many close to me take their turn with that visit. One by one they sidled up to this marauder thinking they could make friends. Quietly but steadily, they formed a relationship that solidified with time. One minute they were boasting about all their travels, the next minute they were going in for hip replacements, knee replacements and cardiac procedures. And turning the volume up so high for Wheel of Fortune that you could hear it in the driveway.
Trouble was I wasn’t always paying attention. That was a mistake. But, in my defense, that aging guy is sinfully smooth. And I had a lot of places to go and people to see. My girl, Risk Taker led the way. And Reckless was her sidekick.
“You get old and you realize there are no answers, just stories.”
― Garrison Keillor
Each one different
I once knew a farmer who had moved his family to the area from Russia. This was many many years ago. When they got here, they set up a little farm milking cows and putting up crops and raising their family. By the time I met them he and his wife were well up in their eighties. The days of their working small farm were long past. But they continued to keep a few beefers and a pig and such. He still only spoke sparse English as did his wife. When he needed veterinary care for one of the beefers, he called his son in Chicago who would in turn call us and relay the message.
The day I went out to castrate one of his young bulls he had been digging their new well. By hand – he was digging a new well. And even though there was just a single post in the middle of one of his sheds by which to tie this moose of a calf, I didn’t worry. The man was built like a mountain and was a great restrainer. It seemed clear; age had certainly moved in but was residing way in the back room with not much to do. Some of us catch a break, I guess.
A newsy resource
The AARP magazine has a lot of information jam packed in every issue for those befriending age. I’ve learned a lot about some of the senior citizens that are famous actors and musicians. They look fabulous. Bruce Springsteen, George Clooney, Viola Davis…. Sure, they’ve had their ups and downs. But they look like they’re doing great traveling along their personal highway.
There’s all kinds of relevant news and ideas in the AARP magazine too. There are articles giving advice on how best to meet someone online, healthy recipes and finding out best places to take a vacation. And they give suggestions for those on a budget. This month Nick Nolte and Jane Seymour are having milestone birthdays. They, too, look fabulous. Although, I’m not sure when the photos were taken.
The AARP magazine doesn’t make aging gory, which I appreciate. It seems clear to me the folks who put this magazine together want the population entering their senior and older age brackets to feel a sense of liberation and optimism. And, community. It seems they want us to feel a sense of community. And, there’s no doubt, we are a big aging community.
Since I’ve been a part of this community for quite some time, I’m getting the hang of how this works. Looking at this has nudged me to look at some areas that are essential to my growing up. I say aging is a growing process because it feels like I’m still growing up. We won’t talk about the list of “I wish I knew then what I know now”. That list is expanding daily.
“If I knew I was going to live this long I’d have taken better care of myself.” ~ Waylon Jennings
Some things remain the same
I can tell you one of the things that has remained unchanged. It is that I can live without a lot of things but singing and music is not one of them. For me, it is as essential as breathing. I know it’s cliché, but music people know what I mean. It’s more than something we enjoy. It’s in us on a cellular level. We are absorbed. It is a part of our DNA. At my house, the barn is alive with music and singing. Whether singing in sadness or joy, we dance and sing with forks in hand. The horses pay little attention to my dance moves. I’ve known for a long time I’m just there for their amusement.
I watched an interview with two beloved musicians. We grew up together through song. In reply to one of the questions, the woman of the couple added, we are all born with two instruments. She patted her chest over her heart and said, the drum. And, then she pointed to her throat and said, the voice. I heard her say that and felt the electricity between us. We’re still growing up together, the three of us. I love that.
Still…. the undeniable truth
But the changes abound! Definitively, I declare, I cannot be the risk taker I used to be. ‘Caution’ is something he had packed in his backpack when he moved in, the ass. Caution. He unloaded a boat load of it, threw it all over the floor and left me to sort through it. The result was I had to shift gears. Perspectives, points of view, all of it had to be moved around and refigured each time there was a decision to make. The biggest shift turned out to be reframing definitions. Caution is something I’ve had to redefine.
One of my biggest teachers, Grammy, lived by a creed that I’ve tried to adopt. She felt it was essential to stay relevant. It was her mantra. And she lived it every day in the details of her life. The latest of this, the latest of that, what is new here and there, she was on it. At one time, it was quite fashionable for women to wear leotards and tights to exercise classes. At eighty years old she had a different color set for each day of the week. She was quite a sight at her classes and at home. That’s just one small example. Staying relevant was Grammy’s superpower!
As I move along, I try to look around all the corners and nooks and crannies of life. I do that because ‘he’ keeps pulling crap out of his backpack and leaving it all over the floor for me to pick up and get used to having around. Some of it will get tossed out. Some of it will be put on a shelf. But ‘Relevance’ is something I keep. Grammy showed me how important that is.